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Art into life

“Transparent” creator Jill Soloway’s new love sprang from a storyline

By WITW Staff on December 10, 2015

In the course of a long interview published in The New Yorker’s December 14 issue, writer-director Jill Soloway (Afternoon Delight, Transparent) has described how her new relationship — with poet Eileen Myles — began.

The writers of Transparent had determined that, in the second season, the character of Ali Pfefferman (youngest sibling in the clan presided over in the series by trans woman Maura) would attend graduate school for gender studies and have an affair with an older female professor.

Having decided to model the academic character on lesbian poet Myles, Soloway said she decided to “go on sort of a deep dive of who Eileen is, watching videos of her.” Already in the process of separating from music-director husband Bruce Gilbert, Soloway described the sensation thus: “I kind of get a feeling of, like, Oh, this is gonna be bad.”

By chance, Soloway found herself soon afterwards on a panel with Myles in San Francisco, experiencing “pretty much an instant connection.”

When Soloway returned to the Transparent set, she discovered her writers had bought Myles’s journal to help them work on character development. “I open it up, and the first thing it says is ‘Whoever falls in love with me is in trouble,’” Soloway said. “It was like she wrote to me without even knowing that I existed.”

Myles is the recipient of the 2015 Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing. She has produced more than twenty volumes of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, libretti, plays, and performance pieces over the last three decades.

The second season of Transparent is released on Amazon on December 11.

Read the full profile of Soloway at The New Yorker.